The ability to search the contents of emails, not just the Subject
It is a deal killer for business use to not be able to search the contents of emails Vs just subject titles. Combine that with the TERRIBLE conversation thread that will not open ALL messages at the same time and PM may be doing great engineering but poor client business development.
The ProtonMail Bridge supports this by allowing ProtonMail to work with any Desktop email client so full text search can be performed locally without compromising the end-to-end encryption.
Bridge is not the solution, it should be possible from ProtonMail app or the web application. It's been possible in Tutanota for years, why not here? Thanks
R D commented
Exiting PM just because of this one issue! Heartbroken
Implemented and open-source from Tutanota since 2017.
FYI (received from PM today when this was reported as a problem):
"As you have noticed, within ProtonMail, you can only search by subject lines, sender, recipient, and the time of messages. Because ProtonMail uses end-to-end encryption, we cannot read any of your messages or attachments, and therefore we currently cannot search through the message body.
Our developers are currently working on integrating an encrypted body search feature which will maintain the current level of privacy and protection that ProtonMail offers. However, due to the complexity of this feature, at this time, we cannot know for sure when it is going to be implemented.
You have noted, however, that you wish to search for specific To/From addresses. Please note that you can do this through the Advanced Search option which you can access by clicking on the downward-facing arrow next to the address input box."
This definitely doesn't work in my Android app, despite saying it's completed.
This feature is not implemented. Just take a look at the mobile clients.
If you add conversation threading to the iOS app and added dark mode for iOS, I'd make ProtonMail my primary email. Until then, I just can't.
Bridge is really not a solution at all. A stop gap at best. The vast majority of people use the web app. Desktop email apps have largely died out except for some business users and dedicated enthusiasts. You need to implement native search. I am not a programmer but many people have pointed out this is possible while maintaining privacy through indexing.
I'm heartbroken. I can't find my messages. I've spent a long time going through them reading them. I still love Protonmail, but man this feature is badly needed.
Gregory Schwedock commented
Client-side search of the last n emails should be sufficient, perhaps with a configurable "n". Most searches are for relatively recent email.
Can’t search in the app?
I’m sure it’s complicated stuff to implement, but you should get the whole damn team on solving this! Yesterday!
Any updates? search is a staple!
It sounds like Bridge should be a reasonable solution for the desktop. You should also add full text search features to your mobile apps! Smartphones are getting big and fast enough that it is perfectly feasible to store an index of all e-mail locally.
It's probably not impossible to do full text search for webmail to around the same level of security that protonmail can currently provide for webmail. You don't need FHE or anything crazy like that.
You would have to provide a read/write store to the client, and then use that to update (and use) an encrypted search index from the client. You might be able to do *some* level of traffic analysis on the user's searches by looking at overlaps between the byte ranges they read, but you already have access to lots of traffic data more sensitive than that.
But frankly if you can get desktop and mobile apps with FTS, it's probably good enough for me.
So what about mobile clients? As far as I understand this bridge must be installed on a client machine. Such setup will not be possible on IOS at least. Why not using tried and tested PGP and stuff that works with every single client on this planet?
"The upcoming ProtonMail Bridge will support this by allowing ProtonMail to work with any Desktop email client so full text search can be performed locally without compromising the end-to-end encryption."
And for those that will continue to use ProtonMail solely via the web client?
You could have the client maintain a corpus over the entire sets of emails that gradually get added to and built. This corpus you could encrypt the same way as the emails and thereby provide search. I know this is not trivial to make good, and people being used to google levels of search, but I think this is at least worth a shot.
[Deleted User] commented
How can proton mail search in the subject, date, etc if the emails are encrypted? Is the subject, date and header in general not encrypted or is the search done in the client side? Can the client side hold and search let's say a million email headers if I have a million emails in my inbox?
The searching would have to be done client-side. PM doesn't have access to the content of your emails, so they can't do searches over the content.
Fully homomorphic encryption isn't anywhere near efficient enough for practical application yet, so there is no way PM could provide you this service on their end.
However, if you were willing to download and locally store all of your emails on your own machine, then the searching could be done on the client side.
This would be quite helpful.
Tim Underwood commented
Would be a great feature, but encryption > search every time.